Callisto's Mirror (Numenera)

Part One: The Nightmare Switch

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The story so far….

Two Nano-Sorcerers from Qi, Gautis Aguin Brod and Tran Vahdis had travelled to the city of Nebalich in the kingdom of Seshar in the Beyond, having been commissioned by the Order of Truth in Qi to conduct a survey of an archaeological site in Nebalich. While there, they enlisted the services of a Glaive, Vance Cyberdyne, who decided to accompany them on their return to Qi in the hope that the Aeon Priests of the Order of Truth might be able to answer some questions he has.

After surveying the archaeological site, an innocuous excavation containing three huge bronze mirrors, a relic dealer, Drax Alder (whom the Order of Truth often purchased finds of dubious legality from) showed them around a similar off-limit site by obtaining forged documents.

The night before Gautis, Tran and Vance were due to leave Nebalich, Drax turned up at The Ragged Loper Inn where they were lodging, asking to come with them on the boat trip to the western end of the waterways of Seshar. He appeared to be extremely nervous and in a hurry to get out of Nebalich un-noticed, but wasn’t very forthcoming with explanations. Since the Order of Truth values him as a contact, the sorcerers agreed.

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The following morning, it became clear that people were looking for Drax, possibly henchmen of a Nebalachi crime boss, Basavi, one of the leading members of the notorious local criminal network, the “Yellow Serpent”.

The four travellers were hurriedly escorted to the “Twilight Princess”, a canal boat on whuch they had booked passage, by Nothing, a glaive who works as a guard on the vessel. The Twilight Princess is run by Deymish, a well-known and trusted local trader. The four boarded the and Drax immediately hid out of sight below decks.

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They sailed up the canals, with Tran Vahdis making some useful adjustments to the crafts propulsion, although not until his well-intentioned tinkering had landed them in a dangerous situation with a swarm of aggressive local flying vermin.

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After a day sailing up the canals, they stopped overnight at an aldeia called Redstone (after the peculiar local rock quarried there) to deliver some urgent cargo; four crates of medicine ordered by Redstone’s clave.

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When Deymish attempted to deliver his cargo to the Aeon Priests of Redstone, assisted by Nothing, Gautis, Tran and Vance, he was turned away by their guard and told to come back the next day as nobody was able to see him or accept deliveries at the moment.

Exploring the town, it soon became clear that everybody was suffering from weeks of sleeplessness caused by terrifying nightmares. It was presumed that the medicine Deymish had brought had been intended to treat this, but nobody had seen the local Aeon Priests for a couple of days, and Deymish was unwilling to hand over the medicine to anybody other than the priests who had ordered it.

When they went to sleep that night, almost everybody experienced horrific and incomprehensible nightmares. Nothing, however, attempting to stay awake, had a different dream, in which he saw a dome in the desert, and a view of its interior, where a mysterious cylinder was displayed being inserted into a panel in the wall.

As word spread around the town that medicine had arrived, it looked as though a riot might be brewing if the cargo were not handed over, but Deymish was afraid of losing the considerable sum he was owed for it if he did so.

Tran sent a probe into the Aeon Priests’ tower, and found (so far as he could tell in the dark) that nobody was there. Gautis used a Cypher to tap into the Datasphere and ascertained the location of the Aeon Priests – in the desert a couple of days’ travel north-west of Redstone, so Gautis, Tran, Vance, and Nothing set out into the desert to find the missing priests.

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After a fight with a dangerous creature in the desert, it became clear that Vance’s martial prowess was enhanced by biomechanical implants which appeared to be of very ancient design.

At the location indicated by the Datasphere, they discovered a camp in the desert.

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Observing from a distance, they saw that the camp was inhabited by a group of Margr, vicious tribal abhumans that live in the desert.

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When the Margr failed to respond to questions and became aggressive, Gautis incapacitated the entire group by throwing a detonation cypher that exuded a cloud of choking gas into their tent. After a hail of crossbow bolts from the two glaives and the sorcerous assaults of the Nanos left half of the Margr dead or severely injured, the rest threw down their weapons and surrendered.

Searching the tents, the party discovered the grisly remains of the Aeon Priests from Redstone, along with a few useful numenera items, including the cylinder seen in Nothing’s dream.

Following a trail from the camp, they discovered the dome from the dream, and Vance was able to get them inside using a Cypher to shift a section of the wall out of phase.

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Inside, they found the panel from Nothing’s dream, and signs that somebody had been working on it in the previous few days, before being seemingly interrupted. Following the guidance received in Nothing’s dream and their knowledge of the numenera, the Nanos were able to replace the cylinder, and the machinery in the dome immediately appeared to take on a more harmonious ambiance.

Returning to Redstone, the jubilant townspeople told them that the nightmares had ended. The locals were distraught by the news of the deaths of their Aeon Priests, and the guard on the clave’s tower allowed them to enter and search the place, uncovering journals which documented the priests attempts to solve the nightmare problem, and their suspicion that it was caused by something that had gone wrong with the dome in the desert.

They suspected that something high in the sky that was linked to the dome was transmitting a mental message to the surrounding region because something had become faulty in the dome, but being intended for non-human minds, the message was merely causing nightmares in the people. Perhaps something in Nothing’s austere training had made his mind more receptive to the transmission, or perhaps it was merely his determined struggle to stay awake. The journals detailed how the priests had decided to go to the dome and see if they could figure out what was going on, and decided to do so secretely, in case the townspeople thought the problem had been caused by the priests’ previous explorations of the dome and their removal of certain items from the place.

After spending a day enjoying the hospitality of the grateful people of Redstone, the party boarded the Twilight Princess and continued on their way towards Guran….

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Interlude 1

After spending a day in Redstone recovering from their expedition to the desert and enjoying the hospitality of the grateful locals, the party continued their journey up the waterways of Seshar in the Twilight Princess. Stopping overnight at the town of Quintas, they heard that strangers had been asking about somebody fitting Drax’s description, so they left quickly in the morning without drawing attention to themselves.

When they reached Guran the following evening, they made their way through the market and booked rooms at an inn called “Milly’s FIshing Hole” in the Sweet End District.

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Part Two: The Violet Vale

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Asking around for possible work in Guran, the party heard that the local Sarracenian temple had been looking for people to undertake a job gathering botanical specimens for them. Enquiring at the temple, they were told by one of the priests that the job involved gathering a dozen examples of an unidentified plant which grew somewhere in the foothills of the Black Riage. They were given special bags to put the plants in that would ensure the specimens stayed alive through the journey back to the temple, some basic instructions on how to dig up plants without damaging them, and promised 30 shins for each plant they brought back alive and intact.

Since it had become clear that agents of the yellow Serpent gang were in Guran looking for Drax, the party decided that they would move on once they had completed the job for the Sarracenians.

After a lengthy and fruitless search of the foothills, a single example of the plants was finally spotted in a clearing in which there was a recently abandoned campsite. Investigating the tents that had been left behind, notes were discovered that suggested that the campsite had been used by a group called “The Steel Star”, an outlawed band described as brigands by the local authorities, and for whom a reward was being offered, including a very large one for their leader, Sintar.

After bagging the plant, another specimen was noticed, and while hunting for signs of any more, Tran ventured into the surrounding woods and experienced what seemed to be a strange temporal displacement effect. Although he managed to find his way back to the rest of the group at the time he had left them, the entire group then found themselves witnessing a fight between the Steel Star members camped in the clearing and some soldiers, presumably in the recent past. One of the Steel Star fled from her captors and begged the party to save her from the soldiers. The soldiers seemed oblivious to the party, or to where their captive had gone, and left the clearing with their prisoners in tow.

The woman transpired to be Sintar, the leader of the Steel Star, and seemed to be suffering from a delusional state, and made little sense, but it appeared that the Steel Star regarded themselves as rebels fighting against the tyranny of the nobility, especially the Baron Asdren, whose lands lay somewhere further north in the Black Riage region.

Following the trail out of the far side of the clearing in search of further plant specimens, the party soon became subjected to increasingly bizarre and disorientating temporal and possibly special displacement effects, bur managed to find a more of the required plants, in ever increasing numbers, until they came upon a small valley filled with the strange flowers.
When Vance had to scrape some of the synthetic flesh from his face after it became infested with spores from a flower in the vale, Sintar revealed that she was an automaton, and that this had been the main cause of the recent split in the Steel Star movement.

After a fight with a huge and dangerous creature, which they managed to drive off, they continued to search for a way out of the valley. They found none, but eventually discovered Gunnar, another member of the Steel Star hiding in a pit, who told them of a tower he’d seen in the centre of the vale, which he thought might possibly hold clues to finding a way out.

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Arriving at the tower, the party found it inhabited by bestial humanoids under the control of a human, the Lady Weiss, and the two strange beings she referred to as her children.

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When hearing of the groups encounter with the monster in the valley, Lady Weiss offered to transport them out of the vale if they tracked down the creature and finished it off.

After accomplishing this, Lady Weiss used a numenera device to instantaneously transport the party back to the clearing where they had first encountered Sintar. An argument ensued about whether to turn Sintar in for the reward money, since it had turned out not to be possible to take specimens of the plants out of the vale due to the temporal warping effect they appeared to generate.

Eventually it was agreed not to turn Sintar in, and Vance decided to accompany her to Ingwald where they would meet up with Tran and Gautis, after the two sorcerer’s had gone back to Guran to report their findings about the plants to the Sarracenians.

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Interlude 2

Before leaving Guran, Tran and Gautis ask around for any suitable guides or bodyguards that might be available. Nethras, the Latimor trader, thought he knew of somebody who’d be useful as a guide in the Black Riage, but was unable to locate the man.

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Part Three: The Narthex

Nethras returned ten minutes later and apologised profusely that he couldn’t find the man he’d hoped to hire as a guide for them. Finding no sign at the inn of the blue-cloaked figure who had apparently been asking for them, Tran, Gautis & Drax stopped at the Rusted Relic scrapyard on their way out of town, where Mecky, the proprietor, offered them some work scavenging a large cache of numenera scrap from a ruined city somewhere in the northern hills of Matheunis. They agreed to come back and take up the job after they’d been to Ingwald where they’d arranged to meet Vance.

A three day trip on a cheap riverboat took them to a village a few miles from Ingwald, and a short walk through the woods brought them to the run-down and disreputable town.

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After enquiring at The Black Dog tavern, they were re-united Vance who had been staying at a safe-house with Sintar and some of the Steel Star rebels.

Sintar explained her plan of raiding the Baron Asdren’s castle while many of his troops have been called away to the crusade. She hoped to accomplish this by making use of some sort of large numenera vehicle that had been sighted in the local area, apparently in the hands of a small religious cult known as the “Brotherhood of Solus” who regarded it as a mobile temple.

A young woman, Vanna, who had escaped from the cult provided a description of the interior of the vehicle as well as some information on the cultists, in return for which Sintar had assured her that her brother, Shome, would be rescued.

Sintar hoped that Tran and Gautis would be able to figure out how to control the vehicle, once Vance had persuaded its current occupants that it was being requisitioned for the use of the Steel Star for the cause of liberty and the common good.

Travelling to the small mountain village of Jutte, where the vehicle, apparently known as the Narthex, was known to regularly appear, they discovered that strangers had been through a couple of days previously and made themselves unwelcome.

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A possible lead on the location on the Narthex at a nearby lake turned out to be false, but lead to solving the disappearance of a couple of local boys.

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Vance managed to kill the monstrous lake creature that had eaten the missing boys by hurling a Shrapnel Detonator device down its throat, and when they returned to Jutte with the news, the grateful village reeve provided some information on the local peoples’ sightings of the Narthex. Most of the sightings seemed to be in the vicinity of another lake a few miles on the far side of the village.

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Walking a few miles out of Jutte to the location of the sightings, they encountered some of the Brotherhood of Solus, and with the aid of Tran’s Halo of Fire, and some yellow Solus-style robes made for them by Steel Star sympathisers in Ingwald, convinced the cultists that they were members of another group of Solus’ devotees come to pay homage to the deity. The cultists performed a strange ritual, and a bizarre floating machine rose out of the waters: the numenera vehicle the brotherhood used as a mobile temple, known to the as “The Narthex”.

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They emerged onto a platform in the centre of a huge vertical shaft with eight walkways leading out from it, entirely in darkness other than a single wlakway which was adorned with candles, icons and incense burners.

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After being led down this “Path of Light” they were taken to the dwelling area inside the Narthex, they talked to the cultists discovering that many had doubts about their leader, which Tran exacerbated by claiming to be sent by Solus to put matters in order. The room was full of numenera panels which the cultists seemed to have little understanding of.

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When the cult leader, Abrasal, appeared, Tran claimed to be a prophet of Solus who had come to bring an end to the corruption that had afflicted the brotherhood, and a fight erupted. Many of the cultists clearly had little love for their leader and seemed uncertain which side they should be on.

Abrassal displayed a powerful ability to control magnetism or metal, which he used to devastating effect, keeping Vance at bay and flinging pieces of girders and clouds of bolts and scrap metal, which appeared to have killed Gautis and seriously injured Tran before Vance managed to take him down by hurling a ceramic dagger.

Savra, one of the more sympathetic cultists urged them to take Gautis to the shrine room, a chamber full of numenera devices and controls.

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In the centre of the chamber was a ball of fiery energy floating in a transparent tube; the “avatar” of Solus, which the cult had made the focus of its devotions.

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An automaton in the shrine chamber, which the cultists refered to as “The Angel of Steel” immediately patched up Gautis using integrated healing instruments, and managed to save his life, although he remained almost comatose.

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They discovered Shome, Vanna’s missing brother tied up in Abrassal’s room, along with a supply of narcotic drugs.

Tran persuaded Savra and the remaining cultists that the time had come to leave the Narthex, while Gregor and Duranis, the only two loyal to Abrassal remained tied up.
Having brought Drax up to the Narthex from Ingwald, Tran, lacking Gautis help, has has far been unable to identify any controls that might steer the Narthex. Drax has told them that Sintar and some of the Steel Star officers will heading up from Ingwald close behind him.
Gautis does little more than occasionally murmer and seems likely to be out of action for some time. Looking closely at the marks left by the injuries he sustained it seems incredible that the automaton managed to save him.

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Interlude 3

With Abrassal dead, the remaining members of the Brotherhood of Solus prepare to follow Tran’s orders and leave the Narthex to go preaching in the towns and villages. Everybody has begun to hear a whispering voice in their mind, which the Brotherhood think is the voice of Solus, a sign that Tran must be the true prophet.

Gautis is recuperating in the shrine chamber. He regains consciousness, recalling a mysterious radiant being speaking to him. Something feels different, particularly the way the machinery around him now appears to his senses, but he is unable to understand what has happened to him. Vanna is in the chamber with him, explaining that she wa on her way back here with Sintar and the Steel Star when she heard the voice of Solus telling her to return, so she ran out of their camp and ran all the way back here, where Solus opened the doors of the Narthex for her and guided her to the Shrine.

Gautis begins to hear the voice again, urging him to come to the being. The Angel shows Gautis a map and some instructions how to do this, including the route to a chamber elsewhere in the Narthex, and the image of figures encased in a stone-like skin walking into the Avatar and disappearing. He hastily makes notes on this and tries to make his way to the chamber but collapses en route.

Vance and Drax have been trying to get the Brotherhood members to collect their things and leave, when one of the cultists, Norrid, says they will need to fetch some scriptures from a storeroom. Drax goes with him, telling Vance they will be back in ten minutes. Half an hour passes and they do not return.

After checking on Gautis, Tran is making his way back to the cultists when Drax appears and says Norrid attacked him and ran off into the dark corridors of the Narthex. They both try to follow Norrid’s trail, and are confronted by Vanna. Drax shoots her with a tranquiliser dart when she appears to be drawing a cypher weapon. Tran destroys the weapon and they continue their search.

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Part Four: The Citadel of Radiance

As Tran follows Drax across a room, the floor opens up and he falls into a pit. Drax says he will go and find some rope to get him out, but does not return.

In the Dwelling area, Vance decides to go looking for Drax and Norrid as an hour has now passed, and takes two of the more amicable members of the brotherhood, Fean and Ashlin with him. They find Gautis unconscious, with his notebook clutched in his hand, in which he has scribbled some notes about a “Transformation Chamber”, a map to it, and that he thinks they need to go to this chamber then go to Solus who is in some transcendent realm called “The Citadel of Radiance”.

They put him in Abrassal’s room and leave Savra watching him, then go looking for Norrid. They find Vanna, now awake, and she explains that she was trying to warn Tran about Norrid, who can change his appearance to mimic anybody he has seen. She had an artefact that disrupted his ability which she was trying to use when Norrid (appearing to be Drax) shot her.

Savra comes running to them, saying that Gautis has somehow got out of his restraints when she went out of the room for a couple of minutes, and has now disappeared. They run back to Abrassal’s room to find Dautis still secured in he bed. Savra says she doesn’t understand what happened. They go to the Shrine, but the chamber is empty other than the Angel, which seems to be moving around more frantically than before. Suddenly, the power seems to be cut and the lights go out.

They go to the Transformation chamber, which still seems to have some power. There are a variety of strange devices in this chamber, but before they can investigate, Savra appears again.

Figuring out that this is actually Norrid, they overpower him and tie him up.
When they begin to explore the chamber, large snowflake-like crystalline entities form on two golden tripods near the entrance, which fly towards them and attack.

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More of the crystals can be seen forming on the tripods, but they manage to destroy the two existing ones and the tripods before this happens.

Using a Datasphere Tap, Tran discovers that the Narthex is missing a component for its control consoles.

Standing on a dias in the centre of the chamber, Vance is dipped in a pool of liquid by a pair of mechanical arms and emerges encased in a stone-like skin which seems to have protective properties.

The whispering voice urges them to come to him in the “Citadel of Radiance” before time runs out, and claims that the missing control column for the Narthex can be obtained from him. From Gautis’ notes, they decide that in order to find Solus, they all need to be covered in this stone skin then step into the Avatar in the Shrine chamber.

Doing so, they find themselves in a different location, a complex with walls of green synth and metal which seems to be in danger of imminent collapse. Rubble is intermittently falling from the walls and ceiling, sometimes injuring or trapping them. Progressing further into the complex, they discover a long windowed corridor which shows that the complex appears to be floating around the sun.

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A dangerous automaton armed with an energy sword attacks them, but is destroyed.

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Fean tries to operate the controls for sets of shutters which appear to be designed to protect the complex, but with mixed results as one set seems to be damaged.
The tremors shaking the complex seem to be getting worse as they continue further in and discover a room full of transparent cylinders in which beings of energy seem to be trapped. Using a screen that allows them to communicate with the beings, they discover that one of them is Solus, who is now able to communicate properly with them.

Solus explains that he and his companions were trapped here a very long time ago by the beings who created the complex, but these creatures have long since died, and Solus and his companions have been trapped in the complex ever since, which is now in imminent danger of collapse. He explains to Tran how he can use an artefact in a nearby room to stabilise the complex, repair another device which can release the energy beings and send them far away, and also use to replicate the missing control column for the Narthex.

With the place disintegrating around them, Tran manages to do this. Attempts to scavenge some cyphers from one of the consoles are abandoned when the tremors start to shake the complex again, and they run for the exit back to the Narthex, barely making it through as the complex disintegrates further around them.

Back in the Narthex, the control column seems to get the Narthex’ controls operational but figuring out how to change its route may take time. Fean creates a sword-staff for Vance using the energy sword found on the automaton in the Citadel of Radiance.

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Part Five: The Shining Face
A test run of the Narthex strands the party on the moon

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Part Six: Noble Pursuits
The Steel Star Militia mounts an assault on Castle Asdren

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Castle Asdren

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The Egg Chamber

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The Nagaina Matron

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Part 7: The Hideous Game
A sinister plot is discovered in the city of Qi

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After arriving in Qi to ask the Order of Truth for help curing Gautis, the party uncover a sinister plot to murder local citizens by some peculiar creatures called slidikin. The mass murder is narrowly averted and the party returns to the Order of Truth to finish arranging the terms for Gautis’ cure.

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